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Gamergate’s doomed plan to win over Tumblr

This is almost too sad to be funny.


Miles Klee

Internet Culture

Posted on Nov 4, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 6:49 am CDT

In the three months since the Gamergate movement began, its proponents have only managed to make a dent in Gawker’s bottom line and out themselves as virulent misogynists. Ethics in journalism are what they always were. How to break the slump and regain momentum? Easy: By attacking Tumblr, the social platform favored by “social justice warriors.”

On 8chan, Gamergaters labeled the impending manuever “Operation Firefly.” Meanwhile, a guide for refocusing efforts on this “new theatre of war” turned up on Pastebin—and man, is it ever dumb. Below are some actual excerpts, apparently typed without the faintest sense of irony or self-awareness.

  • On Twitter: “It is a toy and distraction while the real conversation should be happening elsewhere, like the comments on news articles and youtube videos.”
  • On how to appeal to the Tumblr crowd: “A good idea would be to use popular anime characters and pokemon to get the #Gamergate message out.”
  • On debate tactics: “Have a large folder of evidence, along with the simplified image macros ready to share.”
  • On the need for a persecution complex: “You need to be seen as the victim there in order to gain sympathy and support.”
  • On talking points: “If the conversation shifts to the beginnings of #GG, Talk about the ‘culture of fear’ or ‘rape culture’ that keeps men from reporting sexually [sic] harassment.”
  • On historical precedents: “To claims the movement is rooted in evil, remember to mention WWI.”

Best of all is this rallying cry, which will no doubt echo through history: “Gamergate is not a movement. It’s not even a consumer revolt. Gamergate is an EVENT.”

Maybe so, but everyone has already picked a side, and it’s doubtful Gamergaters can leverage the Tumblr clique’s interest in “relateable [sic] and homely things” to move the needle of public opinion. For this and other reasons, 8chan anons seemed fairly pessimistic about the whole endeavor.

“Given that Tumblr is a SJW hell hole, shouldn’t we ignore it and find moderate places? Is the Tumblr demographic worth going after?” one asked.

Another suggested taking the fight to Facebook, but that idea fell even flatter. “Gets too heated when real names are involved,” came the reply, echoed by a poster who argued that “[a]nonymity is our greatest strength” and “Facebook would be our russian winter.” They do love their military analogies!

Of course, this strategizing presupposes that jargon-laced, pseudo-political chatter diffused across a number of social channels has any impact on whatever Gamergate claims to oppose. Even if sock-puppet, single-issue blogs could sway a majority of Tumblr’s “fence-sitters” and “neutrals”—and there are probably about five of those in all, with most users openly mocking the #GG coalition—would that stop Anita Sarkeesian from speaking out about sexism in video games?

Nonetheless, gaming culture is gamers’ to define, and while astroturfing someone else’s scene is hardly a good look, it does signal what they’re about: delusion.

Photo by Romain Toornier/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Nov 4, 2014, 6:06 pm CST